Birdsong Remixes

Likes birds of a feather, sound collectors flock together. A favored web-nest of late is the Freesound project, at, which hosts raw sound files for enthusiasts, researchers, sound designers and remixers. The “Remix! tree” at Freesound represents a list of files and the remixes that result from them. This past week, about a month after a fellow named Marcus Horndt posted a two-minute field recording of birds (link), another Freesound participant, Hans Timmermans, uploaded three remixes he’d perpetrated on those unsuspecting birds, turning their natural utterances into what he described as ragas (links: 1, 2, 3), in which he digitally re-tuned the original songs as if they were being played on a sitar. The results suggest the birds’ playful squawks are reverberating gently on superfine wires. Somewhere, late avian-obsessed composer Olivier Messiaen is smiling. A little confused, but smiling nonetheless. (Side note: Though Horndt’s file is saved as a high-fidelity wav, and Timmermans’ experiments are in the equally weighty aiff format, the Freesound interface includes a preview that compresses each track to a tidy one-megabyte MP3. Just click on the “Waveform & Preview” window to check one out.)

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